This series is like a book. A very wild, random, and emotional book full of adventure and friendship. The main character, 17 year old Monkey D. Luffy, sets out on a quest to become the King of the Pirates with overwhelming confidence in himself and his friends, a dream which he has longed to fulfill since he was 7 years old. On his journey, he meets many people and creatures, friends and foes, companions and enemies. His fun-loving and naive nature get himself and his friends into trouble constantly, but no one can resist the charming little-kid-attitude pirate that is Luffy.
The Story- The story itself is quite sporadic; at times the plot barely crawls along, and they flashback to the crew standing in the same spot for the next twenty episodes. The animators sometimes show enough of previous events in the beginning of each new episode to only allow barely five minutes of new action, if any at all. The creator, Eiichiro Oda, can switch from having an emotional, tear-drawing arc to a violent, anger-filled time period. The attitudes change so rapidly though, it is hard not to imagine these characters and plots in real life, actually happening around you, if not putting yourself into the tale as well. It may occasionally wear you down with its crazy energy, but allowing the flow of the story to take you along for the ride is an experience that you will never forget. A ten episode streak will have you venomously despising a particular character, in fear or confusion about an event or action, and even make you weep over an event over and over as they replay it. Then suddenly Luffy will come out and say "You are my nakama", in his rarely heard and serious voice, and all of your tension and doubt will fade away in that brief moment. So, I award the story an 9 for excellence, as it does tend to lag somewhat in larger arcs with frequent flashbacks. I feel as though this is largely due to the animators however, and is little to no fault of Oda's. The recent Whitebeard War Saga has boosted this rating up from my previous 8, however, as the War of the Best certainly verified Oda's genius as a storyteller and plot-spinner.
The Animation- This anime series has never had a basic face with differently colored hair, eyes, and bodies like so many other series have had. One Piece has always had a uniqueness around it. In the beginning of this series, the animation was what a person would expect in 1999: Well drawn and lines well defined. As the series progressed, the animation became smoother and more relaxed. You can not clearly tell a change until the two-hundreds. This is when they begin to be drawn taller, thinner, and the girls have much more in their own department. In the earlier areas of the series, they all seemed to be drawn not so much for curves in bodies, but evenly and less demanding on the eyes. After a while of this new drawing style, the animation became sketchy, though not literally. The animators suddenly used combinations of this new style, a new beautiful mix of the original style and the more defined one, and then for a few battle scenes (and one whole episode), they used a very horrid, cheap animation which was very poor indeed. That passed quickly though, and for now it seems that they use mainly the excellent mix of the original style and the more textured one. I gave animation 9, mainly due to the sudden interest taken in large curves and miniscule hips in the episodes mentioned above, and those few battle scenes with terribly drawn action. With the Whitebeard War Saga however, the animation quality has improved so much during that time and continued today that the previous number of 8.5 has been increased in this category to 9 for the effortless flow of animation and the continued use of excellent movie-quality animation used in action and basic scenes throughout the Whitebeard War Saga.
The Sound- I do not have much to say for the sound, for I am certainly no expert in this field. To me, I did enjoy the openings ( I will even give some credit to opening 13, badly placed mood-wise as it was), and the later endings were wonderful. They tied the series together, and set the mood everyone wanted to get into before an episode. I will admit, that the better ones were the action-y, hints at spoiler openings that are newer. The loss of endings during the CP9 Arc gives this department a solid 9, for the background music continues to be glorious in conveying the emotion felt by the characters in the scene, saving this category from the score of 8. The music sets the tone for each scene change, alerting the viewers when a character is being serious, or being comedic, or is nostalgic or intense. An award-winning soundtrack of background music all One Piece fans should have on their music players and Itunes, also including the Openings and Endings as well.
The Characters- The separation and different identities of characters in this anime are phenomenal to say the least. Each of the players has such atmosphere around them, and none of them are cloned face designs with different eyes and hair. This is a wonderful anime for character design, and imagination. The reality of their lives is so touching, you want to weep for them, laugh with them, urge them on to fight, and slap them when they are being horribly embarrassing. When a character is miraculously saved by a special power or long-forgotten character who suddenly makes a surprise appearance, you holler with joy and relief. When a beloved character unexpectedly dies, you weep along side those who are grief-stricken. This is a very easy anime to connect to the characters. I award it a 10, for I found them most entertaining, through all of their strife and hysterics alike.
Overall, I would say that this is a much better than average series. The story is defined, yet open to side plots. The animation, for the better part, is wonderful and smooth. The sound quality I really would say is excellent, and the music was quite exhilarating at certain points. The characters really demand that you be a part of their lives, really. This is a fantastic series, and I would urge so many people who love adventure, mystery, drama, angst, comedy, and inspiration. An epic adventure of a lifetime that no one should miss out on. They teach us lessons; Luffy, his crew, all of the people he meets, their enemies, and even the more comedic villains.
Especially Panda Man.